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Multi-family housing starts at 35-year high in Edmonton

EDMONTON – According to the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC), 2013 was a busy year for housing starts in the City of Edmonton, and already 2014 is looking to keep pace.

The corner of a busy downtown Edmonton intersection, which has been vacant for several years, is one example of further development. Construction on a 234-unit rental apartment building is slated to begin within the next few weeks.

“We’re excited for the project and I’m very excited for what it does for this niche neighbourhood,” said George Schluessel, CEO and President of ProCura Real Estate Services.

ProCura Real Estate has been working on design plans for Mayfair Village North, on Jasper Avenue and 109 Street, for about two years.

The company, which also developed the nearby Mayfair South building, had originally planned to mimic that building’s design. But it made a few exterior design changes after reading several development blogs.

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“We had to go back to the drawing board,” Schluessel said. “We felt that we could maybe do an improved design… giving that gateway entrance to the downtown.”

The building is just one of many multi-unit developments slated to begin construction in 2014, a continuation of what’s become a trend in multi-family housing starts in Edmonton.

According to the CMHC, Edmonton saw more than 14,000 housing starts in 2013. Of those, just over 5,900 were single-detached homes, and about 8,700 were multi-family units.

“That’s the highest number we’ve seen in Edmonton since 1978. So it was a really strong year for multi-family housing starts,” said Christine Butchart, a senior market analyst with CMHC.

Butchart attributes the increase to strong employment growth, increased wages and a low rental vacancy rate in the city.

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But should Edmonton expect much of the same in 2014?

“Since this year was such a high year, we are looking for starts to pull back a little bit. We’re not saying that it won’t be a busy year, it’s still going to be above the 10-year high, but we’re looking at around 6,000 multi-family housing units,” Butchart explained.

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ProCura Real Estate is currently in the process of obtaining permits for the Mayfair building and expects to break ground within four to six weeks. And Schluessel’s outlook for the building are very positive.

“We feel very comfortable that these suites will be all rented before the building is finished,” he said.

Construction on the apartment building is expected to take about two years.

With files from Vinesh Pratap, Global News.

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